How you’re protected when flying commercially

We apply a different level of aviation safety standards to commercial operations, especially when carrying passengers.

A commercial aviation operation that carries passengers can include:

  • a regional airline service
  • an Australian airline operating overseas
  • a small airline flying people in remote parts of Australia
  • a scenic (tourist) flight
  • a charter flight.

Safety standards

Commercial passenger operations must meet the highest level of safety. They are also subject to more checks from us. We call this regulatory oversight. It is our way of making sure operators are following their safety procedures and the rules, and that Australian aviation remains the safest in the world.

All aspects of commercial passenger flights must hold the highest levels of licences and approvals. This includes the airlines, pilots, maintenance organisations, engineers, aerodromes, and air traffic controllers.

We spend a lot of time inspecting and checking these operators and service providers. We also work with industry to improve safety standards.

One way we provide safety assurances is by requiring that all commercial operators hold an air operator’s certificate.

Find out how Australian airlines are approved and inspected.

If you have concerns about the pilot or operator, we encourage you to report unsafe behaviour to us.

Explaining regulatory oversight

One way in which we provide safety assurance of the aviation industry in Australia is through regulatory oversight.

Part of our regulatory oversight includes:

  • when and how we give people and organisations permissions to fly
  • checking that people have the right skills and qualifications to do something safely
  • checking organisations have the right systems and processes in place to assure safety
  • auditing and doing surveillance of organisations to check they are following the rules and effectively implementing their approved safety systems.

Most people and organisations working in aviation do the right thing. When an organisation or individual doesn’t follow the rules, either on purpose or accidentally, it is also our role to take appropriate action.

Find out more about how we conduct surveillance and oversight.

How aviation rules are set

Civil aviation is very tightly regulated to help ensure the highest levels of safety. Most aviation regulations are made like all Commonwealth laws - by the Australian parliament and Governor General. It is our role to support their development in consultation with stakeholders. Other safety standards are set by us.

A United Nations body called the International Civil Aviation Organization sets international aviation standards.

Individual national regulators, like CASA, adopt and adapt these standards and implement and enforce them as rules in their own country. Countries may add to or change these to raise further safely levels and to take account of differences in their operating environment.

The safety standards are regularly changed as technology improves and as we learn from accidents and incidents.

Find out more about our regulatory framework.

Role of operators

While CASA has an important role to play in helping to ensure safety, commercial aviation organisations play an even more critical part in that process. Every aviation operator has an obligation to ensure their operations are conducted safely and lawfully.

They do this through:

  • making sure they have and use systems and processes to help them
  • making sure that ‘key personnel’ within the organisation have the right skills and qualifications
  • reviewing their operations and any safety occurrences regularly.
Last updated:
4 Dec 2023
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